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Norwegian Wood/ Haruki Murakami

Okay so i was settling down happily with what i thought was half of Norwegian Wood to go (happy because i came home to find 1. Salmon 2. Green coloured yakult, both of which are my favourite consumables besides milo EVER) and i thought to myself hey look, plenty more of the book to go! Imma take it easy and read this slowly

and then i finished the book. I’m not even kidding. I was kind of pissed off too because i had no warning that i was reaching the end, i just flipped the page and it said TRANSLATOR’S NOTE.

I stared at it, flipped the page to the one before, and checked the spine but i dont think any pages fell out.

WHY. IT ENDED SO SOON. I have irrational expectations, i admit, i don’t acknowledge that books have an end and it generally takes me by slight surprise like a tiny oh! when i reach the last page, but they generally do taper down towards the end, hint at a closing. Maybe the death of N didnt warn me because death was so commonplace in the novel, maybe i am simply becoming more unaware of things, but i honestly got quite a shock when it ended.

It was the same when (SPOILER) Naoko died.

Page 354: “Let me start with the good news.Naoko has been improving far more rapidly than anyone could have expected. I talked to her once on the phone, and she spoke with real lucidity(…)”

Page 357: Reiko wrote to me several times after Naoko’s death.

Talk about sudden. Not even- naoko died or i was wrong, she didn’t get better. It jumped from a hopeful recount of her improving health to after naoko’s death. No transition. No mention of her death itself besides this reference.

At first i was shocked, then slightly angry- it was all a little too convenient, Watanabe realising he was in love with Midori, wondering what he would do with Naoko, and then suddenly he’s stuck in a love triangle with one dead side. Problem solved since one girl decided to off herself- no guilt factor involved even, because she didn’t know he had fallen in love with someone else so it wasnt like the news was too much to bear and she committed suicide because of it. No, she killed herself because she simply couldnt live with herself, she couldn’t win in the end when it came down to her and her demons.

In Watanabe’s aimless roaming from town to town following Naoko’s death, i felt a slight irritation towards the sense of purposelessness he flung himself into, i felt like it was not so much mourning than self centred action. Do you know what i mean- its like when something shitty happens to you and another person comes and tries to talk to you about it and you just know that they aren’t trying to comfort you because they are genuinely worried. Oh, there’s an element of concern, sure. But they’re doing it for themselves really, its a feel-good action from which they walk away feeling better, happier with themselves- i did something good today!

I felt like the meaninglessness he drenched himself in was like that, just the other way round. He was mourning for himself more than for her, for what her death took from him and not for her person specifically. It disappointed me, i liked him at the start of the book.

Enough about individual characters.

The book itself was curious. I mentioned previously that i liked the style and pace, i said it seemed to have an innate rhythm, like someone beating time, breathing in out in out in out slowly. Most stories have a well defined plot which can be stripped down to Start->Conflict->Resolution->End and while i guess Norwegian Wood did have something vaguely resembling a structure, it read more like a breath-by-breath account. I realise that it’s something of a flashback, but still.

It was almost as if Murakami was drifting along, observing events, adding in a brief commentary here, after thought there, penning down foresight and shaping the story as inspiration ebbed and flowed. What drove the novel seemed like a slightly translucent, sighing web held together by developments in Naoko’s health- i guess that’s why the novel ended not long after she died- but it didnt feel like there was any particular rush to get from one event to the other. Even the ending:

Where was i now?
Gripping the receiver, i raised my head and turned to see what lay beyond the phone box. where was i now? i had no idea. no idea at all. where was this place? all that flashed into my eyes were countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again i called out for Midori from the dead centre of this place that was no place.

And the book ended. It was like Murakami got called away from his vantage point to lunch or dinner and never came back.

In any case, there was a calming, quaint feel to the narration: images associated with the language appear to me as slightly muted, with the grainy quality of film. If you’ve watched Koizora, that’s something like what i’d imagine the cinematography of this book to be like: soft words with the intermediate silence really saying more than the words itself, deliberate eye contact, sudden cuts from scene to scene, scenes with nothing happening except patterned breathing on their backs facing the sky. It’s a style of cinematography i’ve come to associate with japanese based films (most memorably koizora, and this other show about a young boy and his grandmother- cant remember the name) and i’d like to watch the movie although in the hour following my last post, there’s been a whole bunch of people telling me not to watch it, that its a waste of time, disappointing.

Its my own personal idiosyncrasy though, i need to feel like i have come a full circle, completed a ritual. Its the reason why i watched every single one of the Twilight saga movies even though they were completely… well. Nevermind.

Okay what initially started off as a short OHMAGOODNESS I FINISHED THE BOOK AND THE ENDING WAS SO SUDDEN has turned into a thousand word blog post.

Goodnight.

x
‚ô•Jem